Fearless is not the lack of fear 

My chin sweeps by a Cassiopea I can feel the tingling on my skin, the body finally sloshed inside a mix of moss, algae and sediments. The swim comes to a halt, the new moon low tide has drained the last of the few inches of water used to try to swim to the cave entrance. 

The stage tank serves almost as a pedestal, the sculpture of a stranded sidemount cave diver. If it wasn’t for the fact that I will have to walk the way, it looks funny. There is no other solution but to stop and unclip all the cave gear, a lot of gear. Two sidemount tanks, one stage, one camera, light system, nothing floats anymore and everything needs to be dragged across this saltwater lake, a word stretched to describe more of a swamp. The terrain below the feet is a crumbly mess of popcorn rock, a soft hollow limestone giving out every step, the footing uncertain, one tank in each hand, the stage and camera left for a second trip. Sinking down to the shin, to restart and sinking down to the ankle, falling to the right, swaying to the left, the walk is a painful and slow process of giving in terrain. The comfortable 7mm suit for the dive is now a heated black coat, soaking every single Bahamian sun rays raining down on it, the body heat surging, hood and mask still on to save part of the face from the swarming horseflies and mosquitoes, ready for their very next meal at my expense, in a constant fuzzing buzz around my brain. A step, a crumble, a breath, a spit of some sort of bug infiltrated in my breathing, a pause, a realization that the sky has turned grey and dark under the marching clouds…a breath, a flash and a clap! The storm approaches fast catching up my failing steps, my fear feeding from my phobia for storms. For when you experience the lightning’s hit once, it’s very hard to control the fear surging inside and with each passing year it grows to the point of debilitating your every step. Functioning in such a situation is nearly impossible, the fearful mind taking control. Standing in the middle of this vast salt surface, I am the highest presence, carrying metal foreign objects…clap, clap, the storm is now closer, FLASH, CLAP, over me, the rain brings a relief from the heat and the bloodthirsty little creatures, but not from the desire to run, scream, cry. I squeeze my eyes tight, I breathe. There is no other place to go but where I am. I sit and wait, trying to breathe. Clap…pause, clap, rumble…the storm slowly drifts away, the light-clap sequence slows in intensity, bigger time gaps in between each one. The rain keeps falling providing a shelter for the tears down the cheeks…I really hate storms!!! I pick up the tanks and continue my way to the cave entrance, and sit. I look at the cave entrance bubbling continuous and renewable smiles at my presence. “You are here”, it seems to say to me. “I am here” I respond. I reconnect all the gear, repeat all the checks, prepare all the equipment and slide into the unknown, safe, comfortable world of my underground protection.

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